How to Sand & Repaint Iron Railings

Written by kimbry parker
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Although iron railings are beautiful, they can become rusted, worm and dingy over time. Outdoor iron railings are especially susceptible to rust because of constant exposure to rain. Chipping and peeling paint is common on iron railings. Sanding and repainting iron railings will remove rust and peeling paint and restore the railings' original beauty.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Rags
  • Metal scraper and wire brush
  • Emery cloth
  • Coarse sandpaper
  • Drill with sanding pad attachment
  • Commercial rust remover
  • Sponge
  • White spirit
  • Rust-resistant primer
  • Paint brush, roller or sprayer
  • Rust-resistant paint

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  1. 1

    Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a bucket. Scrub the iron railings with a rag dipped into the solution to remove loose dirt, paint and rust.

  2. 2

    Use a metal scraper or a wire brush to remove loose paint and rust.

  3. 3

    Sand the iron railings. For light rust and paint flaking, use an emery cloth. Use coarse sandpaper for deeper sanding. For larger jobs, a drill with a sanding pad attached will make the sanding process quicker.

  4. 4

    Sand the railings until no paint bubbles, chipping paint or other rough areas remain on the surface. You need to provide the smoothest surface possible for the paint to adhere properly.

  5. 5

    Apply a commercial rust remover to eliminate remaining rust on the railings. Follow the label instructions to mix the solution.

  6. 6

    Wipe the railings with a sponge dampened with white spirit. This will remove any cleaning, paint or rust residue. Allow the railings to dry.

  7. 7

    Apply two coats of a rust-resistant primer to the railings, allowing the primer to dry between coats. Use a sprayer, brush or roller to apply the primer. Apply the primer in thin, even coats. Allow the final coat of primer to dry.

  8. 8

    Apply a rust-resistant top coat paint to the iron railings. You can apply the paint in the same manner as the primer. Apply a second coat of paint, if necessary, after the first coat dries.

Tips and warnings

  • Protect surrounding landscaping and structures by covering them with plastic sheeting and painter's tape, if necessary
  • Wipe your iron railings once a year with white vinegar to neutralise them and help to deter rust.
  • Avoid painting your iron railings in high humidity, when the railings are damp or in direct sunlight. Avoid painting railings on windy days if you will be spraying paint.
  • Wear goggles and a face mask to reduce harm from toxic dust that might be released during sanding and painting.

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